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The Colorado Springs Police Department search warrant policy


The Colorado Springs Police Department search warrant policy

General Order

Approved Date: 12/10/1998 Section 7: Force, Detention, and Arrest

Order Number: 743

Supersedes/Dated: 08/05/1993 Topic: SEARCH WARRANTS

,01 PURPOSE: To specify procedures for obtaining and executing search warrants.

.02 CRO8S.REF: G.O. 740. "Determining Probable Cause" G.O. 330. Damage to Non-Police Property

See also all (General Orders in Section 7, "Force, Detention, and Arrest"

CALEA STANDAROS 1.2.3; 1.2.4; 74.3.1

.03 DISCUSSION; By the terms of the Fourth Amendment, a search for or seizure of evidence must be reasonable. The test of reasonableness is met by the ACCUMULATION of facts and circumstances amounting to probable cause to believe the evidence sought is located at the place or on the person to be searched. Where probable cause is shown, an Individual's constitutional right to privacy may yield to the government's right to search and seize.

NOTE: Colorado law pertaining to arrests, searches, and seizures is contained in Article 3, Title 16 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The present General Order provides guidance for implementing its provisions concerning searches, but familiarity with the statute itself is essential. Every law enforcement officer, regardless of present assignment, is expected to know the provisions of that Article thoroughly.

,04 POLICY: The Colorado Springs Police Department will exercise utmost care to respect personal and property rights by following carefully-defined procedures in obtaining and executing all search warrants. Execution will be carried out thoroughly and vigorously, but with the minimum of force necessary to fulfill legitimate police purposes.


AFFIANT: A person who swears under oath that the information contained in the affidavit is true. This is usually an officer.

AFFIDAVIT: A document stating facts under oath which give probable cause to believe that certain crime related evidence is located in a certain place.

ARREST WARRENT: An order in writing from a court of record which commands a peace officer to take into custody a person for a particular crime. It must be based upon probable cause.

ORDER FOR NON-TESTIMONIAL IDENTIFICATION: An order by a court of record which permits a peace officer to take a person into custody for the purpose of obtaining physical evidence relating to a crime. It is based upon less than probable cause. (see Rules of Criminal Procedure (Rule 41.1 for adults; Rule 9.1 for juveniles).

SEARCH WARRANT: An order in writing from a court of record which permits a peace officer to search a particular place (or person) for crime-related evidence. It must be based upon probable cause.

.10 AUTHORITY TO SEARCH WITH WARRANT: In compliance with Article 3 of Title 1G, Colorado Revised Statutes, police officers may search a place or person and seize evidence following a judge's Issuance of a signed search warrant relating facts sufficient to:

Identify or describe as nearly as may be, the person or property to be searched for, seized, or inspected; AND

Identify or describe, as nearly as may be, the premises, person, place or thing to be searched; AND

Establish probable cause (as outlined in G.O. 740) for the issuance of the warrant, by showing there is good reason to believe that the person or property to be searched for, seized or inspected is located at, in or upon the premises, person, place or thing to be searched.

Patrol officers intending to apply for a search warrant should consult the Patrol SOP for specific guidance in completing the necessary documents. Standard document forms will be used, and are available at each substation.

,20 ENTRY INTO A PRIVATE DWELLING TO MAKE A SEARCH; After obtaining a search warrant and having it physically in their possession, officers may enter a private dwelling to conduct a search in accordance with the following procedures

92 PRELIMINARY MEASURES. Except when a "no-knock warrant' has been obtained, as described in paragraphs .40 through .44 below, certain actions are required before attempting entry:

Knock on the door and announce your authority, and purpose

Demand entrance

Wait a reasonable amount of time.

24 MANNER OF ENTRY: The manner of entry to conduct the search will depend upon the response of the person against whom the search is directed. If the person complies with the entry demand, the officer may enter immediately and conduct the search. If the person audibly refuses to comply' an immediate forcible entry may be made. The degree of force used must be reasonable, that is, it must be sufficient to promptly and safely gain access, but no more. Ordinarily, this means breaking open the door.

Devices such as pry bars, axes, battering rams and sledge hammers may be used if necessary to make immediate entry. If the person behind the door remains silent or responds ambiguously to the entry demand, officers must wait a reasonable time before making a forcible entry Examples of ambiguous responses include:

"I'm getting dressed."

"Take it easy "

'What's the rush?'

A "reasonable time" depends upon the circumstances, and particularly with regard to the object of the search. What may be reasonable with respect to stolen typewriters may not be reasonable if gambling records on flash paper or water-soluble paper are sought. A good rule of thumb is thirty (30) seconds, but this time it will be less if highly disposable evidence is involved. If, during the announcement procedure, the officers have reason to believe the evidence sought is in the process of being destroyed, an immediate entry may be made. Officers an under no obligation to argue or negotiate with a person whose property is to be searched, nor should they display credentials through peepholes, slide a copy of the warrant under the door or otherwise delay the execution of the warrant beyond the procedure described above.

.26 EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES: During the execution of a Knock and Announce warrant, exigent circumstances may occur which provide the officers with probable cause to believe that:

Evidence subject to seizure is about to be destroyed or disposed of OR

The lives or safety of the officers or other persons are In jeopardy; Of

A party to be arrested is attempting to escape.

In these circumstances the officer may escalate from a Knock and Announce warrant to a No Knock (unannounced) entry. However, in the case supplement following the execution of the warrant, the officer must describe in specific written detail the probable cause that led him/her to believe that one or more of the above exigent circumstances was occurring or was about to occur.

30 SCOPE OF SEARCH; Alter having made entry, officers should take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to protect themselves: They may control the movements of persons found inside the premises and may frisk such persons for weapons on a reasonable suspicion that they are armed. Persons found within the premises may not be searched for evidence described in the warrant unless those persons are specifically described in the warrant. Therefore, if the items sought are apt to be concealed on persons thought to be in the premises those persons should be named in the warrant.

A warrant to search for contraband implicitly carries with it me limited authority to detain the occupants of the premises while the search is being conducted.

The search may extend to all places within the premises where the evidence or the person sought could logically be concealed. Such places may include personal property found on the premises described, such as duffel bags, suitcases and automobiles. The scope of the search, therefore, is directly related to and is controlled by the objective of the search. Officers are under no obligation to begin or end the search at any particular place within the premises.

.32 DURATION OF SEARCH: A search under warrant must be terminated when the evidence described in the warrant has been found and seized. If one of several items described in the warrant has been discovered, the search may continue for other evidence. If no evidence Is found, the search must end when the officers have exhausted all possibilities as to where the evidence could be concealed.

034 INTENSITY OF SEARCI4: The search warrant is not a license to destroy or harass individuals. However, under certain circumstances it will permit a highly intensive search which disrupts or damages property, Thus, a floor may be pulled up, or a wall tom down, or a garden dug up, If officers have a reasonable belief that the evidence sought under the warrant has been concealed in such a place. That belief should be detailed in the affidavit for the search warrant

.36 PLAIN VIEW DOCTRINE: If officers are lawfully present on premises, as during the execution of a warrant, and they observe evidence in plain view, such evidence may be seized even though it is not described in the warrant and not relevant to the offense under investigation.

.40 NO.KNOCK SEARCH WARRANT: The legality and use of no-knock search warrants has been affirmed by the Colorado Supreme Court.

In preparing the affidavit for a no-knock search warrant, the affiant must cite specific probable cause to believe that:

The subject or subjects inside the premises to be searched will destroy or dispose of evidence sought by the warrant; OR

The subject/subjects inside the premises are armed and dangerous and that announcing entry would endanger the lives and/or safety of officers and/or other persons; OR

Announcing entry would cause the subject/subjects in the premises, who are to be arrested, to escape.

Information which may substantiate the need for a no-knock warrant may be found in many ways, including:

CRIMINAL HISTORY OF SUSPECT: A check of criminal history may disclose that suspect has been convicted of assault. The fact that the suspect has displayed a tendency toward violence in the past may assist the application for a no-knock search warrant.

FIREARMS SALES RECORDS: A check with the Investigations Division Pawn Detail may provide information that the suspect has purchased a weapon. This information, coupled with a propensity toward violence, may afford the affiant sufficient probable cause for a no-knock warrant.

INFORMANT/WITNESS STATEMENTS: A debriefing of confidential informants and/or witnesses may disclose information for probable cause. For example, a suspect may have told an informant/witness that s/he keeps his/her drugs packaged in small containers that can be easy to dispose of by flushing in a toilet or using a garbage disposal. A suspect may have indicated that s/he will shoot it out with police If they attempt to enter his/her property for purposes of a search.

INTELLIGENCE FILES: These may contain any of the above information in other areas, or other information that would assist an affant in developing probable cause for an affidavit for a no-knock warrant

.42 COMPLETION OF NO-KNOCK WARRANT PROCEDURE: Warrant preparation will be completed by the initiating officer. Upon completion of all necessary forms, the warrant will be reviewed by the initiating officers Lieutenant. Before forwarding to a judge, all no-knock warrants will be reviewed and approved by a Department Staff Officer.

Application for no-knock warrants must contain the wording "No-knock" or other language which specifically allows unannounced forcible entry on the face of the warrant. A complete description of the exigent circumstances used as the basis for a no-knock warrant and a specific request for a no-knock warrant must be contained in the affidavit.

EXECUTION OF NO-KNOCK WARRANT: The execution of a no-knock search warrant may pose extreme danger to both me officers making entry and to occupants of the residence being entered, or to others in the vicinity. The Tactical Enforcement Unit of the Colorado Springs Police Department is a specially trained force which is best suited for conducting this type of mission.

The Tactical Enforcement Unit will conduct all no-knock search warrant raids. If the Tactical Enforcement Unit is not available for a no-knock warrant because of another mission, the Central Division Commander will review the no-knock warrant and the other mission and determine the mission priorities for the Unit. If the no-knock warrant is placed on hold, the Tactical Enforcement Unit Commanding Officer will advise the affiant or his/her supervisor as to when they may anticipate the execution of the warrant.

A Command Level Officer will be designated for each no-knock warrant execution. This designated Command Level Officer will normally be the Patrol Support Commanding Officer or the Metro VNI Commander, but another Lieutenant or higher-ranking officer may be given the duty when necessary. The commanding officer must be present before execution and will take part in all pre-execution briefings.

The designated commanding officer, after reviewing all appropriate documents, will continue to monitor the situation until the warrant has been executed and the warrant site secured. The designated commanding officer will continue the monitoring responsibility even if the activity carries over for one or more watches,

In the event of watch overlap, all supervisors within Departmental components and units which are connected in any manner with the execution of the warrant will be responsible for briefing their relief personnel on all relevant matters.

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